Pennsylvania Native Plant Society hosts annual festival

Agriculture is an important industry in Center County.

With over 1,000 farms across the county, having a green thumb is common. However, when it comes to personal gardening, recommend Merrill David, board member of the State College-based nonprofit Pennsylvania Native Plant Societysaid that people often have their own values ​​in mind when designing outdoor spaces.

David said she gardened based on the values ​​she was taught.

“I gardened like my parents did, choosing plants based on what I thought would be pretty or beautiful green fillers, like hostas, forsythias, petunias and non-native hybrid roses,” she said. “I never thought about how my planting decisions affect all the other species that live outside my home.”

Since joining the Pennsylvania Native Plant Society, David said she and others have learned about the growing problems of non-native plants across the country.

To help educate the community, the Pennsylvania Native Plant Society hosts an annual event Central PA Native Plant Festivalwhich provides resources on native plants in Pennsylvania and has plant vendors selling native plants.

Native plants provide food and habitat that native wildlife needs to survive, while non-native plants do not support wildlife, David said.

“Over the past few decades,” she said, “the pace of habitat loss – with development and deforestation, increases in invasive species, pesticide use and planting of lawns and exotic ornamentals – has had a devastating impact on our native flora and fauna.”

For example, according to Environment America, the American bumblebee has disappeared from eight states in the United States. David said this is related to the planting of invasive species.

“Human values ​​impact natural systems, and everything is connected,” she said. “What you plant or don’t plant is important. Even if you have the smallest property or just have potted plants on your patio, you can really make a real difference.”

This year, the annual Central PA Native Plant Festival will be held on Saturday, May 4, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Millbrook Marsh Nature Center.

Attendees will have the opportunity to speak with agriculture professors and native plant vendors while purchasing new additions to their personal gardens. The event also includes live music, food vendors, information booths and sessions on practical native gardening and common garden insects.

View the vendor list and factory listings on the PA Native Plant Society website.

“Seeing the crowds at the Native Plant Festival, breathing in the spring air, looking forward to sourcing their new plants, and learning more about how we can be responsible stewards of our environment to contribute just by what we plant, to change things,” David said, “This is incredibly rewarding.”

Anna Harden

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